Pat Esparza is a Mesa Chamber of Commerce board member, shares the chamber’s support of a city property tax and has made reaching out to Hispanicowned businesses a priority if she is elected.
But that was not enough to get the endorsement of her own chamber board, which voted to support Councilman Kyle Jones over his three District 4 challengers.
Esparza, who as a board member represents the chamber-sponsored Mesa Leadership Training and Development program, learned of the vote Friday. Esparza did not participate in the board’s deliberation, which included an in-person interview and review of a written questionnaire.
“I’m very disappointed, but however, I have to take the news and focus on what I’m doing,” said Esparza, whose Hispanic-majority district includes downtown Mesa and areas south.
The two other District 4 candidates are J.T. Ready and Ilias Kostopoulos, who both oppose the property tax.
The chamber board also endorsed Councilman Rex Griswold — who is running unopposed — in northeast Mesa’s District 5 and Scott Somers over Councilwoman Janie Thom in southeast Mesa’s District 6. The council primary is March 14.
Jones was the chairman of the Mesa 2025: Financing the Future committee — Esparza was also a member — that recommended the council ask voters to approve a property tax and sales tax increase to 1.75 percent.
As a councilman, Jones voted to place the property tax and sales tax increase on the May 16 ballot. Shortly before that vote, the chamber announced it would only support a proposal that included the property tax.
“I appreciate the endorsement,” Jones said. “I’ve made a commitment to follow through on what I’m doing and I think they realize that.”
Chamber of Commerce president Charlie Deaton said Jones had the advantage of being the incumbent and showing leadership through the finance committee and as a councilman.
“That was not the easiest decision the board had to make,” Deaton said.
Deaton said the chamber sided with Somers over Thom because he supports the property tax — Thom does not — and because Thom has been unable to build consensus on the council.
Deaton said the endorsements are made for the benefit of the 1,100 chamber members. The Tribune is a member of the Mesa chamber and the board’s chairman is Tribune chief financial officer Jim Best. The Tribune, however, does not endorse candidates.
Also in District 4, write-in candidate Jerry Spellman announced Monday he would be backing out of the race because the Arizona Republic said he and other council candidates could not blog on the paper’s Web site during the campaign.